AGGRESSION (Psych 201 - Chapter 13 - Spring 2014)
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  • 1. This Week’s Playlist Artist Song 1. Gym Class Heroes ft. Ryan Tedder The Fighter (Instrumental Aggression) 2. Brand New Seventy Times Seven (Hostile Aggression) 3. Aerosmith Janie’s Got A Gun (Weapon Presence ! Aggression) 4. Ben Folds Five Song For The Dumped (Frustration-Aggression Theory) 5. Limp Bizkit Break Stuff (Neo-Associationistic Account of Aggression) 6. Lucinda Williams Greenville (Southern Culture of Honor) 7. Ke$ha Backstabber (Women & Relational Aggression) 8. LL Cool J Mama Said Knock You Out (Men & Physical Aggression)
  • 2. Melanie B. Tannenbaum, M.A. Psych 201 Spring 2014 Aggression
  • 3. Chapter Topics ● Situational Determinants ! ● Construal Processes ! ● Culture & Aggression ! ● Evolution & Aggression ! ● Conflict & Peacemaking
  • 4. Chapter Topics ● Situational Determinants ! ● Construal Processes ! ● Culture & Aggression ! ● Evolution & Aggression ! ● Conflict & Peacemaking
  • 5. What is aggression? ● Aggression: Any action with the intent to harm. Hostile Aggression ! Motivated by anger, hostility, or genuinely wanting to hurt the other person Instrumental Aggression ! Motivated by something other than hostility, like wanting to get attention, acquire resources, or advance a cause.
  • 6. What are situational determinants? Influences in the environment that increase aggression. ! ● Heat ! ● Media/Video Games ! ● Weapon Presence ! ● Social Rejection ! ● Income Inequality
  • 7. Heat My blood is boiling... He’s so hot headed...
  • 8. Heat ! High temperatures might lead to more aggression! ! ● More violent crime in regions with hotter climates ! ● Violent crime reaches a maximum during summer months ! ● Heat waves associated with increased violent but not non-violent crime rates ! MLB pitchers are more likely to hit batters on very hot days (but not more likely to throw wild pitches or walk batters)
  • 9. Heat
  • 10. Heat: Why? ! ● Anger ! Increased blood pressure ! Increased blood distribution to fighting body parts (like hands) ! higher body temperatures ! ● Strong, automatic mental associations between feeling angry and hot. ! ! ● When people feel hot, it primes the emotion of anger... how smiling can make you feel happier! Remember self-perception theory.
  • 11. Heat: Why? ● Heat increases physiological arousal. ! ! ● When people encounter a situation that could provoke anger, they misattribute this arousal to the situation, which amplifies the emotional reaction. ! ● Remember misattribution of arousal!
  • 12. Media ● Do you think that violent TV, music, and video games makes people more aggressive? ! ● A. Yes ● B. No
  • 13. Media ● Social Learning Theory (Bandura, 1977) ● People learn how to behave by observing others & copying behavior ● Modeling: Engaging in a behavior in front of others ● Observational Learning: Adopting the behavior of others ! ! ● When people see others engaging in a behavior, they are more likely to subsequently engage in the same type of behavior ! ! ● As a result, seeing people act violently in the media can make people more likely to be violent themselves.
  • 14. Media ● The “Bobo Doll” Study:
  • 15. Media ● Violence is a common theme portrayed in the media ● Primetime TV shows average 5-6 violent acts per hour ● 90% of shows that children watch portray some kind of violence Participants shown aggressive film clips in the lab behaved more aggressively afterwards than those shown non- aggressive clips
  • 16. Cartoons = Kid-Friendly? ● “[Researchers] recorded 26 acts of aggression an hour in TV shows aimed at children as young as seven, compared with just 5 acts in shows aimed at general audiences and nine in programs deemed unsuitable for children under 14.” ! ! ● Cartoon violence can lead to just as much observational learning as “real people” violence, especially when it’s more subtle ways of teaching kids how to respond to situations (with insults, verbal aggression, etc.)
 ! ●
  • 17. Media ! What increases the chances that watching aggression will lead someone to be more aggressive? ! ! ● If the person identifies with whomever they’re watching ! ● If the person focuses on the violence while watching ! ● If the violence is justified (e.g. against criminals)
  • 18. Media ● Does this really mean that violent TV makes you violent? ● Not necessarily, no. ! ! ● These are all priming effects; they’re very short-term. ● Watching old people won’t make you walk slower forever! ! ! ● Any evidence that watching violent TV makes you permanently violent is correlational. You can control for “third variables,” but it doesn’t mean it’s causal!
  • 19. Weapon Presence ! ● Worldwide, 650 million guns are in the hands of non-military citizens. ! ● In the US, there are 89 guns for every 100 citizens Does the mere presence of guns have any impact on behavior?
  • 20. Weapon Presence ● Berkowitz & LaPage (1967) ! ● Male participant & an actor worked on problems and then took turns evaluating; participants were either shocked once or several times. ! ! ● It was then participant’s turn to provide shocks; next to the machine, there was either nothing, badminton gear, or revolver & shotgun. ! ! ● When someone is already angry, presence of a weapon increases aggressive behavior (shocking), even if the weapon is not used.
  • 21. Weapon Presence ● However...(as with most things!)’s complicated. ! ● Bartholow et al. (2005) ● The presence of guns does not increase aggressive behavior in hunters. ● Why? Construal!! ! ● Most people construe guns as aggressive weapons. ● Hunters construe guns as sporting/recreational gear. ! ● Like anything else, guns prime related concepts. For most people, this means aggression & violence, but if the related concepts are not aggressive, the person won’t become more aggressive.
  • 22. Social Rejection ! ● Social rejection stimulates feelings of pain ! ● Socially rejected people experience higher levels of chronic physical pain, physical ailments, & greater pain during childbirth Social rejection activates the same neural circuits as physical pain... ! fact, pain relievers like Tylenol can even relieve social pain!!
  • 23. Income Inequality ! ! ● Definition: The difference in percentage of wealth owned by the richest people and poorest people in any society ! ! ● Countries and US states with higher income inequality have higher rates of violent crime.
  • 24. Income Inequality ! ! ● What percentage of wealth in the USA do you think is accounted for by the top 20% of Americans? ● A. 25% ● B. 45% ● C. 65% ● D. 85%
  • 25. Income Inequality ! ! ● What percentage of wealth in the USA do you think should be accounted for by the top 20% of Americans? ● A. 25% ● B. 45% ● C. 65% ● D. 85%
  • 26. Norton & Ariely, 2011 ! ● Americans dramatically underestimate current wealth inequality. ! ! ● Americans constructed ideal wealth distributions that were far more equitable than even their erroneously low estimates. ! ! ● There was a surprising level of consensus! ● All demographic groups — even those not usually associated with wealth redistribution, like Republicans and the wealthy — desired a more equal distribution of wealth than the status quo.
  • 27. Income Inequality: Why? ● 1. Social Rejection ● People at the bottom feel left out (rejected) ● Social rejection tends to increase aggression
  • 28. Income Inequality: Why? ● 2. Lack of Cohesion ● Inequality undermines the cohesiveness of a society ● It can create an “us” vs. “them” mentality ● There is more violence in less cohesive neighborhoods
  • 29. Income Inequality: Why? ● 3. Violent Competition ● Income inequality may pressure males into fiercer competition for access to economic resources and mates ● These are both common motives for violence
  • 30. Test Your Knowledge ● What would you expect during a particularly hot summer? ! ● A. More violent crimes, like murder and rape ! ● B. Fewer violent crimes, like murder and rape ! ● C. More non-violent crimes, like petty theft ! ● D. Fewer non-violent crimes, like petty theft
  • 31. Test Your Knowledge ● Social rejection activates the same brain regions as: ! ● A. Falling in love ! ● B. Experiencing physical pain ! ● C. Experiencing social acceptance ! ● D. Watching cartoons
  • 32. Chapter Topics ● Situational Determinants ! ● Construal Processes ! ● Culture & Aggression ! ● Evolution & Aggression ! ● Conflict & Peacemaking
  • 33. Two Big Theories ! ! ! ● 1. Frustration-Aggression Theory ! ● 2. Neo-Associationistic Account of Aggression
  • 34. Frustration-Aggression Theory Frustration Aggression
  • 35. Frustration-Aggression Theory Frustration Aggression Occurs when goals are blocked ! These can be conscious or unconscious
  • 36. Frustration-Aggression Theory Frustration Aggression
  • 37. Frustration-Aggression Theory ● What increases the amount of frustration experienced? ● 1. How completely goal progress is blocked ● 2. How frequently goal progress is blocked ● 3. How close you were to achieving the goal ● 4. How satisfying you thought the achievement would feel
  • 38. Frustration-Aggression Theory ● What increases the amount of frustration experienced? ● 1. How completely goal progress is blocked (Fullness) ● 2. How frequently goal progress is blocked (Amount) ● 3. How close you were to achieving the goal (Farness) ● 4. How satisfying you thought the achievement would feel (Anticipation)
  • 39. Frustration-Aggression Theory ● You can’t always retaliate against the source of frustration ● You can’t smack your boss when he yells at you ! ● Certain events don’t give you a clear source to target ● The economy is bad...who can you blame? ! ● Also known as Scapegoat Theory
  • 40. Frustration-Aggression Theory ● Hovland & Sears (1940) ● What was the relationship between the price of cotton and the lynchings of Blacks in the South from 1882-1930? ! ● As it turns out, there was a strong negative correlation between the price of cotton and the number of lynchings. ● As the price went down, the economy got worse. ● As the economy got worse, lynchings went up. ! ● Frustration leads to generalized aggression, most likely to be targeted against powerless groups.
  • 41. Frustration-Aggression Theory ! ● Frustration ! Generalized Aggression ! ! ! ● Misattribution of arousal ! ! ! ● Frustration ! Find a stimulus ! Attribute emotional experience to that stimulus ! React to that stimulus
  • 42. Frustration-Aggression Theory: Critiques ! ● 1. Frustration is not necessary for aggression ! ! ! ● Hostile aggression can arise because of heat, pollution... ! ! ● Instrumental aggression is often not due to blocked goals.
  • 43. Frustration-Aggression Theory: Critiques ! ● 2. Frustration is not sufficient for aggression ! ● The same stimuli that can trigger aggression (e.g. heat) can also trigger other responses (e.g. relaxation) ! ● Learned helplessness ● If people think the situation is hopeless, they don’t become angry or aggressive – they just give up. ☹ ! ● Harmful acts construed as intentional are more likely to result in aggression than the same act construed as unintentional.
  • 44. Neo-Associationistic Account ● Construal changes how people respond to goals being blocked. ! ● If the blockage is construed in a way that makes you angry, then aggression is likely, but not otherwise.
  • 45. Neo-Associationistic Account ● More about general aversive events leading to anger which leads to aggression, not the direct “frustration ! aggression” ! ● Depends on experiencing anger. ●
  • 46. Neo-Associationistic Account ! ● Burnstein & Worchel (1962) ! ! ● Participants worked on math problems ! ● A confederate disrupted their work either because (a) he wasn’t paying attention or (b) his hearing aid malfunctioned. ! ● All participants experienced the same frustration, but only the participants in the first condition aggressed by kicking the confederate out of the group and giving him a low score.
  • 47. Neo-Associationistic Account ● Remember the Berkowitz Study ● Participants who were angry were more likely to deliver shocks when there was a gun in their presence. ! ! ● This study showed that only angry participants were more aggressive in the gun condition, not all participants. ! ! ● This supports the idea that feeling angry is an important component; it’s not just the event itself, it’s the construal.
  • 48. Construal Processes! ● Frustration-Aggression Theory ● People feel frustrated when their goals are blocked ● This leads to generalized aggression ● This aggression can be displaced onto “scapegoat” targets ! ! ● Neo-Associationistic Account of Aggression ● When an event (any event) is construed in a way that makes you feel angry, you become more likely to aggress ● If that same event is construed in a way that doesn’t make you angry, you won’t aggress ● It all depends on construal – construing the event as something that should make you feel angry is what elicits aggression
  • 49. Test Your Knowledge ! ● You are stuck in a traffic jam. According to frustration- aggression theory, what would lead you to be the most aggressive? ! ● A. You are completely stuck; you can’t move anywhere ● B. You are only a few minutes away from work ● C. You really wanted to be on time because your boss will be there today and will notice your presence ● D. All of the above
  • 50. Chapter Topics ● Situational Determinants ! ● Construal Processes ! ● Culture & Aggression ! ● Evolution & Aggression ! ● Conflict & Peacemaking
  • 51. Three Types of Cultures 
 (Leung & Cohen, 2011)
  • 52. Three Types of Cultures 
 (Leung & Cohen, 2011) Strong internal sense of self-worth; very independent, other people can’t take away your dignity. Derived from the self. US North; parts of Europe.
  • 53. Three Types of Cultures 
 (Leung & Cohen, 2011) Dictated by others; about appearances. Guided by status and hierarchy. Care what others think of you. Many parts of Asia.
  • 54. Three Types of Cultures 
 (Leung & Cohen, 2011) Concerned with respect. Very strong focus on competition; not as much about status hierarchy (more individualist/ every man for himself). Seek retribution if you’re wronged. US South; Latin/South America.
  • 55. Culture of Honor ! ● A culture that is defined by its members’ strong concern about their own and others’ reputations ! ! ● This leads to a hypersensitivity to insults and a willingness to use violence to avenge perceived wrongs or insults ! ! ● In the US, the South is the best example of a “culture of honor.”
  • 56. Culture of Honor ! ! ● When insulted, Southern males show more facial expressions of anger, display a firmer grip, have severe spikes in testosterone, and are more likely to become aggressive. ! ! ● Compared with Northern men, Southern men are more sensitive to insults.
  • 57. Culture of Honor “Cultures of honor tend to originate in ‘lawless’ environments, where a weak (or nonexistent) state is unable to enforce contracts, protect individuals from predation, or punish the guilty...[so] payback becomes an organizing theme.”
  • 58. Culture of Honor “Insults take on special importance in honor cultures, because they are probes or tests of who can do what to whom. ! A person who establishes that he will not tolerate even small slights establishes that he cannot be pushed around on big issues either.”
  • 59. Culture of Honor
  • 60. Culture of Honor
  • 61. Test Your Knowledge ● What is a main finding of research on the culture of honor? ! ! ● A. Southerners are more likely to honor the law than Northerners. ! ● B. Northerners are more sensitive to insults than Southerners. ! ● C. Felony-related murders are more common in the South. ! ● D. Southerners are more likely to respond to arguments with violence.
  • 62. Chapter Topics ● Situational Determinants ! ● Construal Processes ! ● Culture & Aggression ! ● Evolution & Aggression ! ● Conflict & Peacemaking
  • 63. Violence in Stepfamilies ● The “Evo-Psych” Argument ● Daly & Wilson, 1996 ! ● Natural Selection ! ● You should devote resources to your own offspring ! ● Increases the survival chances of the offspring, thus increasing survival chances of parents’ genes.
  • 64. Violence in Stepfamilies ● Giving away resources is costly ! ! ● Parents only do it because it helps their genes survive ! ● For stepparents, devoting resources to children doesn’t help their “genes” move forward, so stepparents should devote fewer resources to stepchildren
  • 65. Violence in Stepfamilies ! ● Children under 2 are 100 times more likely to suffer lethal abuse from stepparents than genetic parents, even when controlling for things like poverty, mother’s age, length of the parent-stepparent relationship, & number of children in the home. ! ! ● In South American foraging tribes, 43% of children raised by a mother and a stepfather die before the age of 15 (compared to 19% raised by both biological parents).
  • 66. Violence in Stepfamilies: Issues ! ● However…there are a lot of problems with the assumption that any of this is a good reason to conclude that there’s an evolutionary basis!!! ! ● Can you think of any confounding variables or other factors that might explain this relationship? ! ● Can you think of any problems with the evolutionary logic?
  • 67. Violence in Stepfamilies: Issues ! ● 1. Survival of a stepchild CAN increase survival chances of the stepparent’s genes ! ! ● If the stepparent has biological children, their survival chances should increase if stepsiblings are strong/healthy and can function as good allies. ! ● A stepchild can provide stepparents/step-siblings with resources.
  • 68. Violence in Stepfamilies: Issues ! ● 2. If stepparent-stepchild relations were motivated by genetic concerns, the rates of aggression should be relatively constant across cultures. ! ! ● There are strong cross-cultural differences in these rates; this indicates that culture and/or conscious motivations probably play a stronger role than evolution.
  • 69. Violence in Stepfamilies: Issues ! ● 3. The overall incident rates are very small. ! ! ● Most stepparents are good people, who are just as nice to their stepchildren as their own children, and are just as nice to their stepchildren as the children’s biological parents are. ! ● If this were truly about genes, it should happen for ALL stepparents.
  • 70. Violence in Stepfamilies: Issues ! ● 4. Aggressive/negligent stepparents may be just as aggressive/negligent to their own biological children. ! ! ● There’s no comparison group in these studies (they don’t measure how much more aggressive they are towards stepchildren than towards biological children).
  • 71. Violence in Stepfamilies: Issues ! ● 5. If behavior was truly driven by the motive to increase the survival chances of a gene, then all parents (step- and bio- alike) should refuse to give resources to any child with birth defects, deformities, congenital diseases, or any other reason why they might have “lower reproductive fitness” (e.g. less attractive, less intelligent, etc.) ! ● This doesn’t happen. Period. At all.
  • 72. Gender & Aggression ● Physical violence is overwhelmingly committed by men ● In the US, men account for 99% of rape arrests, 88% of murder arrests, and 87% of aggravated assault arrests ! ● Men are overwhelmingly the victims of physical violence too
  • 73. Gender & Aggression ● However...this does not mean that women are less aggressive than men. Women are just a different kind of aggressive. ● Women tend to be more relationally aggressive ● Behavior intended to harm another person emotionally ●
  • 74. Gender & Aggression: Why? ● Men and women are socialized differently ! ! ● Condry & Condry (1976) ● Parents were shown a video of an infant looking startled ● “What is the emotion?” ! ! ● If parents were told it was a boy, they said “angry.” ● If parents were told it was a girl, they said “scared.”
  • 75. Gender & Aggression: Why? ! ! ● Parents talk more about emotions with daughters than with sons; this creates greater empathy and more of a focus on emotions (and ways to help – or hurt – people emotionally) ● The one exception is anger. ! ! ! ● This supports the cultural theory that men are socialized into being more physically aggressive.
  • 76. Of course... ! ● Women can be physically aggressive too... ● ! ! ● ...and men can be relationally aggressive ● ! ! ● But these are general patterns ☺
  • 77. Test Your Knowledge ● What type of aggression is more common in women than men? ! ● A. Instrumental aggression ! ● B. Hostile aggression ! ● C. Relational aggression ! ● D. Physical aggression
  • 78. Test Your Knowledge ● The fact that parents are more likely to talk about emotions with girls than with boys supports a cultural theory that gender differences in aggression are... ! ● A. Forced ! ● B. Socialized ! ● C. Fake ! ● D. Evolutionary
  • 79. Chapter Topics ● Situational Determinants ! ● Construal Processes ! ● Culture & Aggression ! ● Evolution & Aggression ! ● Conflict & Peacemaking
  • 80. Conflict
  • 81. Conflict ● Dehumanization: The tendency to attribute nonhuman characteristics to groups other than one’s own. ! ● Example: Propaganda posters from World War II showing enemies of America as disgusting animals like rats, pigs, or bugs. ! ● Leads group members to assume that outgroup members are less capable of experiencing emotions like compassion, embarrassment, or other humanizing/moral sentiments. ! ● Makes it harder to facilitate cooperative relations; peacemaking becomes more difficult.
  • 82. Misperception ● People on both sides of the political spectrum asked about: ● Own attitude on a political issue ● Attitudes of political opponents on that target issue ! ● People estimate that their opponents’ attitudes are much more extreme than they actually are. We often hold misconceptions about the beliefs of those who disagree with us... ! A lot of the time, our attitudes are more similar than we realize!
  • 83. Simplistic Reasoning ! ● Attitudes, beliefs, and arguments are simple or complex. ● Simple: Few points, few connections between points. ● Complex: Many points, many connections between points. ! ● Example: Gay Marriage ! ● Simple Position #1: Religion says it should be this way. ● Simple Position #2: Civil rights say it should be this way. ! ● Complex: Consider equality, civil rights, traditions, religion, economic concerns, and how they interact.
  • 84. Simplistic Reasoning ● Which is better? ● Politicians who hold complex attitudes deemphasize differences between parties, express tolerance of opponents’ views, and resist blaming the other party (they’re more bipartisan!)
  • 85. Simplistic Reasoning ● Who does what? ● People who hold extreme viewpoints (on either side of the spectrum) tend to be simpler ● Extreme conservatives and extreme liberals both hold simpler attitudes/beliefs than moderates ! ● When politicians are campaigning, their rhetoric is relatively simple. After being elected, rhetoric becomes more complex. ! ● This is good!! It’s good for elected officials to be complex.
  • 86. Test Your Knowledge ● Which of the following statements would Ross and colleagues agree with? ! ● A. People who are pro-choice probably overestimate how extreme pro-lifers’ attitudes actually are (and vice versa). ! ● B. People who are pro-choice and pro-life have major value differences that are too fundamental to ever overcome. ! ● C. There are actually no differences between people who are pro-choice and people who are pro-life; it’s all in our imaginations. ! ● D. People are generally very good at accurately estimating how extreme people’s attitudes are, because it is an automatic inference process.
  • 87. Peace ! ! ● Although this might come as a surprise, contemporary society is actually the least aggressive, least violent, and most peaceful time in history. ! ● steven_pinker_on_the_myth_of_violence.html
  • 88. Top Things To Know ● Hostile vs. Instrumental ! ! ● Heat & Aggression ! ! ● Social Rejection & Physical Pain ! ! ● Income Inequality & Aggression ! ! ● Gender & Aggression ● What do men do more? Women? ● What does relational aggression look like? ● Frustration-Aggression ● What increases frustration? ! ! ● Culture of Honor ● Which culture is more sensitive to insults/disrespect? ● What types of situations would increase aggression in someone from a Culture of Honor? ! ! ● What is dehumanization? What does it look like? What does it cause?